Category: News & Information

New book, The Madonna Files, makes top ten list on Amazon bestsellers for category “International Mystery and Crime”

A book you’ll have fun reading, which will inform you of Marian apparitions, as well

From Amazon book reviews:

“If you are a Da Vinci Code fan, YOU MUST READ THIS — Vatican intrique set in the Washington, DC area. I could see the map, streets, rivers, etc. — WHAT FUN! The complexity of the history, story development, character relationships, twists and turns are astounding. The history was so believable that I kept thinking — “wow, I didn’t know that!” The worst news is–it ended. I WANT MORE IMMEDIATELY!!!:


Stephen Ryan’s  book is a religious thriller described in an Amazon review as “a cross between Indiana Jones and a Dan Brown mystery.” 

The Madonna Files is, for the most part, set in the near future, but the story begins with a mysterious event that takes place in Rwanda just as the genocide begins to rip that country apart.   From there, the story quickly moves to the outskirts of Washington D.C., where Father Daniel Baronowski finds himself in a deadly race against time to locate a letter stolen from the Pope’s apartment. The letter contains an apocalyptic message.  The hunt for the letter takes Father Dan on an epic journey across the globe.  From Rome to Washington D.C., from Annapolis to grand cathedrals and secret hideouts, Father Dan must find the letter with the secret message before enemies of the Church find it first.

Stephen’s debut novel challenges the prevailing orthodoxies of American history and Christianity, and reveals the dynamic presence of the Virgin Mary throughout the ages. With unexpected turns and a full dose of scholarly intrigue along the way, The Madonna Files is a contemporary novel that explores the hidden secrets of the Virgin Mary.

 Early Reviews:

“I found it to be a great book; a fascinating, fast-paced thriller, written in a strong voice, filled with rich dialogue, complex and colorful characters, a story-line that tackles the most meaningful, religious and political subjects in the world. It is an impressive work…Move over Dan Brown, I was blown away!”  –  Daniel Klimek –  National Correspondent for Medjugorje Today

“A Powerful book of adventure and faith” – FRANK SCHAEFFER
Frank is a New York Times best selling author of fiction and nonfiction. Frank’s highly acclaimed novels include Portofino, Zermatt and Saving Grandma and have been translated into nine languages. His nonfiction includes Crazy For God and Keeping Faith. Frank is a frequent commentator on MSNBC and a blogger on the Huffington Post

“The book was fast paced and hard to put down –read it in just a few days. Loved the characters and the history of both the Church and the country interspersed with Marian apparitions and dogma. Timely and compelling reading. Especially since I had just been to see the new film, “The Triumph.” Overall, a great read. Amazon Review

imAmazon page is here

Author page is here



20th Annual Marian Conference

Christine Watkins will be speaking this weekend at the 20th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference in Fresno, CA, September 27-29, along with Fr. Rick Wendell, who died and came back to life, Jesse Romero, great Catholic evangelist, Bishop Armando X. Ochoa, and others.

Call (559) 824-0732 to register. The conference will take place at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, 2233 Ventura, Fresno, CA. See



Inline image 2








The program will be broadcast LIVE every week

Wednesdays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Standard


Listening is easy. Go to, and click on “LISTEN LIVE,” or find a STATION NEAR YOU,

or listen via SMART PHONE by downloading Radio Maria’s mobile app.

All shows will be archived at www.

Pope calls for prayer and fasting today, September 7, for Peace!

Today, September 7th, in an unprecendented move, Pope Francis has called the Church and the world to a day of prayer and fasting for Peace in Syria and the world.

Here is his heartfelt public address

of September 1, 2013:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.
There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.
I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.
With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict. With similar vigour I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.
May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries. May humanitarian workers, charged with the task of alleviating the sufferings of these people, be granted access so as to provide the necessary aid.
What can we do to make peace in the world? As Pope John said, it pertains to each individual to establish new relationships in human society under the mastery and guidance of justice and love (cf. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, [11 April 1963]: AAS 55, [1963], 301-302).
All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity!
I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.
May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and be let themselves be led by the desire for peace.
To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.
On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.
Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Text from page
of the Vatican Radio website

Am I a Bigot? Thoughts on a Future with Same-Sex Marriage

On Christmas Day, 2012, an unusual Marian apparition occurred to the visionary Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti in Medjugorje. Mary appeared with the Christ child on her lap. At the moment in the apparition when Mary would normally speak, she remained silent, and the Christ Child rose up and stood like a king. For the first time in the history of the Medjugorje apparitions, God, as a small child, spoke: In this extraordinary apparition of our times, he said, “I am your peace. Live my Commandments."



Thoughts on a Future with Same-Sex Marriage

It’s been a little disheartening these days to see the vicious debates rage over the introduction of same-sex marriage. I’ve been called a bigot and a religious fanatic for the first time in my life. For someone who has spent most of his adult life fighting for the underdog, I wonder, am I really what others say I am? Or is there more to traditional marriage than simply religious fundamentalism or sexual bigotry? Is there any reasonable concern over the potential long term effects, should same-sex marriage be instituted as the law?

So what is marriage? What is the purpose of it? Is it simply a private contract for two people for the benefit of those two individuals, or is there a social benefit to the institution of marriage?

From a social perspective, the public benefit to marriage is that marriage between a man and a woman creates the most stable environment for the raising up of children; therefore societies throughout the course of time have instituted marriage for the raising up of the next generation. The family unit is the first institution ever formed in the world for the ongoing good of people. It precedes the state. It precedes nations. Marriage between and man and woman is a social standard going back many thousands of years, even preceding our Judeo-Christian beliefs. Every society from the Far East to the Americas has made marriage between a man and a woman, (or in a few cases, between a man and women), because cultures across the globe and throughout time have thought that the best way to develop the greatest potential in a child is for that child to have a mother and a father. (For current research on this, click here for the Vatican Insider article: “Here are the problems gay couples’ kids will face.” To read the silenced voices of adult children of same-sex parents, click here.) In order to protect and encourage stable families, societies have either bound a married couple together, so that they can’t easily break their contract, or have encouraged them with incentives to remain together, thus trying to create a stable environment for a child.

But there are plenty of gay couples who have children and parent them well.

This is true.  For thousands of years there have been special circumstances where grandparents, uncles, friends, neighbors have had to take care of children. In fact, a just society has an obligation to protect children born without a mother and a father by creating systems for adoption and special help for the children.  Just as society helps aunts, grandparents, etc., care for a child, society should provide help for same-sex couples who are caring for a child, so that they, too, can provide a stable environment. But should society redefine marriage in order to accommodate these particular special cases?

A problem occurred when the courts redefined marriage so that it could be inclusive of same-sex couples. What the courts did was redefine marriage from a contract between two people for the benefit of raising up children for the next generation, to a contract between two consenting adults for the benefit of two consenting adults. They changed the fundamental meaning of marriage, the innate social purpose of marriage.

The question could be asked, “There are plenty of good same-sex parents, many of whom are better than traditional mother and father parents, so if you expanded marriage to be more inclusive of other types of parents, wouldn’t that be better for society in general?”

When you have a new definition of marriage, which is more about two consenting adults than about raising children, you travel down a new path of breaking down the basic foundation of society- the family. I ask, is this a wise social experiment?

But what about human rights? Doesn’t everyone have the right to marry whom they choose?

The courts have said that same-sex marriage is a human right. The question is, what defines a human right? There are basic human rights of survival: life, food, shelter, and health care. There are also human rights that help people to thrive, such as liberty and labor. Is choosing who one wants to marry an extension of this right? A human right is assumed to be something in common with everyone. For example, every human needs food, water, and air to survive. Every person has the right to religious and political freedom. Doesn’t this automatically extend to marriage? Shouldn’t a person be free to marry whomever they choose?

The freedom to marry is not a universal right, because marriage is also a public institution affecting the common good of all. The state, for instance, does not support marriage between relatives, or between an adult and child, or parent and child, or child to child, for varied reasons. Society, for the good of the whole, has never allowed every individual to marry whomever they choose.

Moreover, often human rights are threatened in the name of human rights. When claims to rights are severed from the just requirements of the common good, the inevitable result is a distorted understanding of human rights that all too often leads to the violation of the rights of others. In redefining the meaning and innate social purpose of marriage to suit a desired outcome, the courts are unwittingly infringing on children’s rights to have a mother and a father.

But why are Christian churches engaged in this issue? Isn’t there a separation of church and state?

The Constitutional separation of church and state means that organized religion will receive neither favor nor obstruction from the state. What is unconstitutional is the state’s establishment of religion or the state’s prohibition of the free exercise of religion. Nothing in the First Amendment separates the churches from society, or religion from public life. They are inseparable.

It is interesting to note that many people are okay with special interest groups like GM, Starbucks, Planned Parenthood, etc., who advocate for private interests to have enormous power and influence over the state, but would like the Church to take a back seat, when the Church, like no other institution in all of history, has fought and continues to fight for billions of people in need: the poor, the homeless, the immigrant, the elderly, the worker, the unborn, the people on death row, and victims of every form of injustice and violence. Without the church, where would basic, universal, civil rights be?

What will this really mean for me? Why should I care if two women who really love each other get married?

The courts have said that marriage is a human right, and they have placed it within a classification of race. “You can’t discriminate against race,” they’ve stated, “so you can’t discriminate against homosexual marriage.” People who say, “Oh, this new view won’t affect how a parent will educate a child,” aren’t thinking long term, for it will be impossible for a parent to define marriage between a man and a woman without being classified as bigoted or racist. The courts have defined it as such. School educators can say, “We won’t be like Boston, or Spain, or Canada. We won’t teach the new definition of marriage in our school.” But this won’t change or override the fact that society has defined marriage inclusively as a racial issue.

There is an incredible risk to society to embark upon changing the foundational structure of society with no social analysis. The courts are embarking on something completely new, untried, and critical to the fabric of society. All of a sudden same-sex marriage is the new human right, with an assumption that it has always been so, when it has never been the case in the thousands of years of human history. And to expect a zero difference in society isn’t rational or reasonable to expect.

The courts have weakened the fundamental social aspect of marriage and made it an issue of personal choice rather than the up-building of the next generation. Most would agree that functional family systems are central to society. Without them, society will collapse. The question is, will society function if the family unit deteriorates any more than it already has?

I ask again, “Is it reasonable to have concerns about same-sex marriage or am I just a bigot?”


By John Francis Watkins, Jr.

The new pope is Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina–see videos and news report

Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on March 13, in Vatican City, Vatican. Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the 266th Pontiff and will lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

Click below for further news and television reports:

Worldwide Novena for Election of New Pope and Benedict XVI’s Concerning Words

Worldwide Novena Opportunity for the Election of the Next Holy Father

(Written by Dr. Mark Miravalle, Professor of Theology and Mariology):

As the conclave for the next Holy Father soon approaches, it is the joyful responsibility of every Catholic to pray for the election process, to ensure the choice of the best possible successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

We must be on guard against all complacency which concludes, “The Holy Spirit elects the pope. I don’t need to pray for the conclave.”

When Pope Benedict was asked, “Does the Holy Spirit elect the next pope?” He responded:

I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the pope. … I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote.

The Pope’s response underscores the imperative for the Catholic faithful to pray fervently with committed hearts to the Holy Spirit, that the conclave of cardinals elect the candidate most pleasing to God to become the next Vicar of Christ on earth. We, the faithful, must enter this historical papal election process by praying to the Holy Spirit that He will descend upon the conclave for the choice most pleasing to Jesus and most beneficial for the Church and for the world today.

Beginning March 1, 2013, the first day when the Chair of Peter will be vacant, I encourage you to join in this Worldwide Novena for the Election of the Next Holy Father. Please join Catholic brothers and sisters the world over in daily praying the Novena Prayer below (or any other prayer to the Holy Spirit that you may prefer) that the Holy Spirit may truly inspire the hearts of the cardinals of the conclave to choose the man that Jesus wants to guide the Church at this precise moment of human history. This Conclave Novena will end on the day the Church and the world hears the words, “Habemus Papam!” (“We have a Pope!”).

 Conclave Novena Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send down your Spirit over the conclave. Let the Holy Spirit inspire the hearts of the cardinals, that they may choose the man most pleasing to You, as Successor of Peter and Your Vicar on Earth. May Mary, Your Mother and Mother of the Church, be our Advocate. Amen.

(Written by Christine Watkins, MTS, LCSW):

Pope Quotes That Cause Concern

“Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves,” Pope Benedict XVI said in his homily on April 24, 2005, at the Mass and imposition of the pallium at the start of his papacy.

From the beginning of his pontificate, the Pope Benedict XVI was dealing with and lamenting over a church divided, even in high places– one that is torn from without and from within. As he himself stated, “We may see that attacks against the Pope and the Church do not only come from outside; rather, the sufferings of the Church come from inside the Church, from the sin that exists in the Church. This was always common knowledge, but today we see it in truly terrifying form: the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from external enemies, but is born of sin within the Church.” —POPE BENEDICT XVI, interview on flight to Lisbon, Portugal; LifeSiteNews, May 12th, 2010

Trouble and divisions have been mentioned before. In his homily given on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29, 1972, Pope Paul VI made a famous remark about the “smoke of Satan” entering into the Vatican. The Holy Father asserted that he has the feeling that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God” (da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio (Insegnamenti ,1972, p. 707).

The approved Marian apparition in Akita, Japan (1973-1981) contains, in part, the following prophecy: “The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate Me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres … churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.”

Pope Benedict XVI, himself, prophecied a very different Catholic Church in the future. To read his prophecy and other related articles, click below:

Pope Benedict XVI’s Prophecy of the Future of the Church

Pope Denounces Division in the Church

“The Time of Testing Is Here,” he said recently

Pressure Grows on Pope to Leave Rome

Pope bids final pubic farewell, February 27, 2013

Let us pray and fast for the future of the Church

Pope Benedict XVI is resigning this month! On February 28, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI announces his resignation at end of February, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI on Monday said he plans on resigning the papal office on February 28th. Below please find his announcement.

Full text of Pope’s declaration

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013


Listen to Pope Benedict XVI make his announcment: RealAudioMP3

From the Vatican Radio website

In Medjugorje, One Finds a “Peace” of Heaven

Christine Watkins with her son, Christian, in front of St. James Church in Medjugorje


Not once did I intend to travel half the circumference of the globe to Medjugorje, a small town in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the former Yugoslavia. I even poked fun at people who made return voyages to this distant place where the Blessed Mother was allegedly appearing in our lifetime. These repeat offenders and other past pilgrims seemed far too eager to send me overseas. At the Medjugorje conferences I attended, they would say to me with pleading eyes, “You should go!” They talked about a peace not of this world, reports of miracles, and handed out rosaries like Halloween candy. But why must I go? I wondered. I had no objection to the idea of Mary appearing in Medjugorje and giving messages. She had visited earth many times following her Assumption, and her current and repeated pleas from a mother’s heart, calling the world to prayer, fasting, receiving the Eucharist, reading the Bible and going to confession seemed sound enough. Her words could hardly benefit the designs of the devil; and were Medjugorje of human origin, its six visionaries, persecuted by the communists when the visions began in 1981, and hounded by pilgrims asking the same questions every day since, would have called it quits long ago. As one of the seers, Mirjana, put it:

“I also often asked myself: Why should I invent such a lie? If I were lying, this would make me an abnormal person. Even during communism, the doctors stated that we were normal. I had a nice life. I lived with my parents as the only child for nine years; they cherished me. Why would I want to turn my life upside down? Why bring turmoil, anxiety, agony and pain into my life – why? In my opinion, only an unstable person can do such a thing.”* (See previous post.)

Since I needed no convincing, I saw no reason to join a pilgrimage even once, much less multiple times, like those odd repeat-pilgrims who perhaps had an over-abundance of free time, too much money, or a fanatical streak? Couldn’t I just get in my car and cruise to St. Barnabas Church just five minutes away from my home? After all, the Eucharist was there.

Be careful what you make fun of. I have since traveled to Medjugorje five times.

Each trip was an unexpected calling full of untold graces, practically ducktaped together with frequent flyer miles and faith. My first pilgrimage with my husband saved my marriage. On my second trip, God asked me directly to write a book of Medjugorje conversion stories, now a bestseller for Ave Maria Press called, Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession. The third time, I providentially met two people whose stories ended up gracing the book. I organized the fourth trip and gathered a group of friends who received heavenly gifts. The fifth time, ABC television planned to interview me there, so I hopped on a plane again and experienced that peace I’d always heard about—a sweet ecstasy that satisfies every longing, every possible desire of the human heart.

The 14-ton, 12 meter-high cement cross atop Cross Mountain in Medjugorje

On those trips, I discovered that in Medjugorje, the miraculous is commonplace. The following are but some of the experiences of my family and friends alone: the miracle of the sun, where one can stare safely at it; the uncommon desire to pray for hours; the spontaneous healing from chronic, debilitating back pain; lightning striking earth in rainbow colors; a vertical light splitting the sky in two on a cloudless day, a fourteen-ton, twelve meter-high cement cross, free from all electricity, lit up and spinning like a top at the summit of Cross Mountain; a beating heart appearing in the host during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; the smell of roses where no roses or perfumes were present; atheists finding faith without foxholes; breast cancer healed; cures of debilitating depression and anxiety; golden clouds in the sky and a golden dust covering the earth. The millions of other people who have passed through Medjugorje would undoubtedly have more to share. . .

One never knows what will happen in Medjugorje, because Medjugorje is part Earth, part Heaven.  Even with the modern build up of hotels and religious knick knack stores at every turn to shelter and cater to the growing stream of pilgrims, Medjugorje captivated me. I didn’t know that a physical place on Earth could contain so much of heaven. Never before Medjugorje had I experienced such intense spiritual communion, such palpable belief, everywhere I looked. In Medjugorje, graces seemed to rain down in torrents, renewing parched souls with the living water Jesus offered to the woman at the well. I once heard a priest say, “Show me another place on earth besides Medjugorje where I can take teenagers for a week and they come home transformed, and I’ll take them there instead.”

The Mother of God has introduced herself in Medjugorje as the Queen of Peace, and she clearly desires to impart that peace to her children. The peace often granted to souls through Medjugorje is not that of a relaxing vacation, a human embrace, or a happy outcome. It is the peace of Philippians 4:7, which surpasses all human understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. I remember standing in front of St. James Church in Medjugorje, doused in peace, and thinking that there must be something I should be concerned about, but my mind refused to worry.

One particular moment of peace stands tall in my memory above the rest. After eating dinner at a restaurant where I sat near a table seating the three-person crew from ABC television, I left to walk a short block to the area behind St. James where hundreds of people sat outside in the warm summer night air, facing the Blessed Sacrament—a large Host carefully placed in a stunning monstrance circled by golden rays. As I walked into the midst of the Real Presence of Jesus, a multitude of prayers, and sweet live music, I felt overcome with a deeply peaceful, tingling, ecstatic joy that filled my heart to capacity. When I sat down to pray, that capacity somehow grew. Giddy waves of peace carried my heart off to heaven while it somehow remained in my chest. Off to the left, the sky flashed with lightning, but without a sound, as if the Holy Spirit were delighting in showing himself off to his people—perhaps he was.

Suddenly I became the one acting like a crazed fanatic. I promptly stood up and ran back toward the restaurant. If only the ABC crew could experience this! Surely then their hearts would be touched, and they could share with the world what was truly happening here at this holy site.

I bounded back into the restaurant trying to calm myself down. Still gasping for breath, I approached the crew’s table and exclaimed, hardly making sense: “You might want to see this. You might want to film this. The peace—the lightning with no thunder–the music, the multitudes. It’s so beautiful. It’s warm. It’s adoration. It’s what we Catholics do. Then looking at them with pleading eyes, I said, “You should go!”

They looked at me with courteous amusement , and then I left. They never budged. They hadn’t finished their beers and saw no reason to disturb their comfortable dinner. Without interest or faith or the desire to change, even one block is too far to travel.

Miracles are simply neglected sideshows when the soul is left untouched. As Fr. Jozo Zovko, OFM, the pastor of St. James church when the apparitions began, once said:

Fr. Jozo Zovko

“In Medjugorje, the miracle is not so much in Our Lady’s apparitions or in the words she speaks to us, but in the pilgrim’s reply, who accepts to change his heart and life. That is the great miracle!

Take St Francis: the miracle was not that Jesus spoke to him, but in the fact that he gave up everything to become poor in everything.

In the Gospel we read of the rich young man who was called by Jesus. The miracle wasn’t that he saw Christ and heard his call; it would have been in his response, had he responded. But he preferred his riches to Jesus. That is a miracle which did not occur.

It is not a miracle for God to talk; it is normal. In Medjugorje it is the pilgrim who decides if a miracle will occur or not. All he has to do is to open his heart to respond to the call.”*

Medjugorje would mean nothing without the conversion of the human heart. My work gathering stories for the Full of Grace book introduced me to Medjugorje’s inner world, the world within each heart, as I wrote down some of the most amazing conversions I had ever heard: a former crack addict who experienced his own apparition of Mary in Medjugorje and is now completely free from his addiction; a lonely youth who found healing from abortion, depression, and anxiety; a Nobel Peace Prize who, with Mary’s help, rescues children living in the sewers of Colombia; a violent, homeless heroin addict, diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic who is now a happy, sane, kind-loving family man; a former stripper who has considered becoming a nun; and a former atheist, who was me, caught up in serious sin and miraculously saved from imminent death through Mary’s Intercession. The book and subsequent talks I’ve given around the country have introduced me to hundreds of Medjugorje conversion stories, more than the mind can run after.

Such graces have to come from heaven. They can’t possibly come from man. As I encountered testimony after testimony, I saw how each conversion, healing, or a prayer answered ministered so perfectly to the individual that only an all-knowing, all-loving, Almighty God could manage such feats. No human being could weave such tapestries of exquisite experience, could manipulate lives with such life-altering results and reach the heart where only God can speak. Like seashells, or grains of sand, or snowflakes, each story was intricately unique, beautiful, and perfect—so clearly created by an infinitely fertile imagination. If souls say yes to what Mary is asking, they become a holy expression of their true selves. And they find true peace.

“There is only one danger alone for Medjugorje – that people will pass it by!”**

–Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar,

regarded by Pope Benedict XVI

as one of the greatest theologians of our time

By Christine Watkins, MTS, LCSW

Catholic speaker and author of Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession.


** Entire quote from Medjugorje and the Church by Denis Nolan: “The theology of Medjugorje rings true. I am convinced of its truth. Everything concerning Medjugorje is authentic from a Catholic point of view. All that happens there is so evident, so convincing! . . . There is only one danger alone for Medjugorje – that people will pass it by!”– Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar